O'Reilly logo

Peer-to-Peer by Andy Oram

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Metadata lessons from the Web

Peer-to-peer’s power lies in its willingness to rethink old assumptions and reinvent the way we do things. This can be quite constructive, even revolutionary, but it also risks being hugely destructive in that we can throw out lessons previously learned from the web experience. In particular, we know that the Web suffered because metadata infrastructure was added relatively late (1997+), an add-on situation that had an impact on various levels.

The Web burst onto the scene before we managed to agree on common descriptive practices—ways of describing “stuff.” Consequently, the vast majority of web-related tools lack any common infrastructure for specifying or using the properties of web content. WYSIWYG HTML editors don’t go out of their way to make their metadata support (if any) visible, nor do they request metadata for a document when authors press the “Save” button. Search engines provide little room for registering metadata along with their associated sites. Robots and spiders often discard any metadata in the form of HTML <meta> tags they might find. This has resulted in an enormous hodgepodge of a data set with little rhyme or reason. The Web is hardly the intricately organized masterpiece represented by its namesake in nature.

Early peer-to-peer applications come from relatively limited spheres (MP3 file-sharing, messaging, Weblogs, groupware, etc.) with pretty well understood semantics and implicit metadata—we know it’s an MP3 because it’s in ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required